Plant breeding has been practiced for millennia. Farmers have been selecting and hybridising plants to improve yields, flavour, nutrition and resistance to pests and diseases. Horticulturists today use the same basic techniques to introduce new ornamental cultivars.
The simplest method is called plant selection, where a particular clone or population is selected for a desirable trait – this could be form (eg. prostrate, dwarf, weeping), colour (flower or foliage), or a higher tolerance to drought, frost etc.
Breeding hybrids is a much more complicated and time-consuming process. It’s the deliberate interbreeding of individuals of closely related species to produce new plants with desirable characteristics. These hybrids are grown on, reviewed and culled over a period of years to select the most horticulturally desirable specimen. This specimen is then multiplied clonally and released into the market place as a new cultivar (cultivated variety).
We display many beautiful Grevillea cultivars. Some new cultivars that are performing well in our clay soils are ‘Flamingo’ with large pink clusters of flowers, ‘Honey Barbara’ with vibrant orange flowers, ground-cover ‘New Blood’ with deep red spider flowers and the dwarf ‘Wattlebird Yellow’ with large sunny yellow flower clusters.